NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. — The investigation into the death of a Central Kentucky man shot by an officer with the Nicholasville Police Department remains ongoing. 

What You Need To Know

  • Kentucky State Police is investigating after a Nicholasville police officer shot and killed an armed man they say was suicidal

  • 22-year-old Desman LaDuke died after the incident on October 22

  • Kentucky State Police began looking into the shooting, a request made by the Nicholasville Police Department that same day

  • LaDuke’s family said Desman would bring a smile on the face of anyone having a bad day

22-year-old Desman LaDuke died after the incident on October 22.

Melissa Marks and Desman LaDuke pose for a photo. Marks is LaDuke’s aunt and was a mother figure in his life. (Melissa Marks)

Kentucky State Police began looking into the shooting, a request made by the Nicholasville Police Department that same day.

On October 22, Nicholasville police responded to a call made by LaDuke’s aunt and a mother figure, Melissa Marks, to a home on Green Street to a person attempting to take their life and was armed. The Police Department said they activated a Special Response Team and two crisis negotiators trained in handling mental health issues.

After more than two hours of negotiations, the department said “the situation deteriorated and resulted in a loss of a life.”

KSP said an ambulance took LaDuke to the hospital at 1:30 pm. that Saturday and the Fayette County Coroner’s Office reports he died at 5:55 pm.

On Monday, Oct. 31, Nicholasville Police released new details to curb confusion circulating on social media. They said in a release, in part, “Following prolonged and persistent attempts to negotiate with Mr. LaDuke, he appeared in the rear window of his residence pointing two handguns. Despite repeated pleas and orders for him to drop the weapons, he ultimately aimed both handguns at nearby officers.”

A video shot by a bystander shows another vantage point. 

KSP said they’ll use the video in their investigation. It depicts a portion of the incident and shows four officers in the backyard of the house.

A loud gunshot is heard, which we have chosen to mute in the video.

Attorney Sam Aguiar gave Spectrum News 1 permission to use the video. He represents LaDuke’s family. He said the officer closest to the house fired what would be the fatal gunshot at LaDuke.  

Nicholasville Police said they’ve turned over body camera footage to KSP for their investigation.

Nicholasville Police Department added in their initial release, “While it is impossible to lessen the pain and grief that Desman LaDuke’s family is enduring, we wish to assure all those affected that our agency made every effort in the interest of achieving a peaceful resolution.”

Neighbors describe LaDuke

It’s something they shared in common, their love to play basketball, said 9-year-old Jayce Prentice.v“He used to always come out and play basketball with me and my brother and he was a really good man,” Jayce said.

Prentice lives next door in the duplex where Desman LaDuke, 22, used to live.

“And he was really quiet as a neighbor over there, like he never ever heard him when he got home so it was just crazy like for cops to do that to somebody when he just wouldn’t come out the house,” Jayce said.

The elementary student witnessed what unfolded on Green Street on Oct. 22, along with his aunt, Becky Spillman, who lives across the street.

“He was over there. You can hear Desman over there hollering, ‘Get, get them away from here, get them away from here’,” Spillman said. 

Spillman said the back and forth between officers and LaDuke went on for several hours.

9-year-old Jayce Prentice used to play basketball with Desman LaDuke. (Spectrum News 1/Khyati Patel)

“And when we heard that pop, well, you know Melissa (Marks) and some more of the family was out there and they just broke down crying and wanting to go over there. They wouldn’t the police wouldn’t let him over there and nothing because you know, they didn’t know either. But when they brought him out, he was on the stretcher, and his head he was just looking from side to side and they just put them in an ambulance without anybody going over to see anything about it,” Spillman said.

Melissa Marks is LaDuke’s aunt and plays a parental role after the Nicholasville resident lost his biological mother and brother.

Marks texted us, describing LaDuke. “He was absolutely intoxicating. Anyone who ever met him couldn’t wait to see him again. He’d bring a smile on the face of anyone who was having a bad day. He was not the typical young man who wanted to be out doing things. He wanted to be home with his friends and family cooking out or spending time by the firepit if it was too cold to cook out. he loved to help people. He and his brother got matching tattoos that say “legacy” because they said they were gonna change the way young Black men are looked at. He was trying so hard but was hurting so much. The police didn’t give him that chance.”

While the investigation remains ongoing by the Kentucky State Police, Spillman has concerns. “I just don’t I just don’t like the way things came of because Desman was not that type of person for them to just shoot him like that. Because he’d be out here playing ball with the kids. And you know, you hardly ever seen or heard anything out of and, and he just wanted them to leave and they wouldn’t leave so that any of the family could come and see him.”

She said it could’ve been handled differently. “And I mean when we heard that gunshot, all the kids broke down crying and was all upset because he (LaDuke) played ball with them all the time when he was out. And he was a good guy. He was a good guy,” Spillman said.

Jayce is navigating through the hurt and said he’ll miss LaDuke.

“He still will be always in my heart,” Jayce said.